Please welcome Kristina McMorris, who is the recipient of nearly twenty national literary awards. A host of weekly TV shows since age nine, including an Emmy® Award-winning program, she penned her debut novel, Letters from Home (Kensington Books, Avon/HarperCollins UK), based on inspiration from her grandparents’ wartime courtship. This critically praised book was declared a must-read by Woman’s Day magazine and achieved additional acclaim as a Reader’s Digest Select Editions feature, a Doubleday/Literary Guild selection, and a 2011 Goodreads Choice Awards semifinalist for Best Historical Fiction. Her second novel, Bridge of Scarlet Leaves (March 2012), has already received glowing reviews from Publishers Weekly and Kirkus Reviews, among many others. Named one of Portland’s “40 Under 40” by The Business Journal, Kristina lives with her husband and two sons in the Pacific Northwest.
Clearly an overload of hormones was to blame. I was pregnant with my second child (which means I had no logical excuse not to know better) when I decided I would fill my imaginary surplus of free time by writing a novel. I wasn’t a creative writer. I was barely a reader—unless you count such literary gems as Hippo Goes to School or Where Is Ducky’s Tail?
Yet, somehow it occurred to me that writing—and publishing—a novel couldn’t be that hard. Besides, I was inspired. A discovery of my grandparents’ wartime courtship letters had gifted me with an idea for a great movie. But since I seemed to be short on a film crew…and cameras…and a craft service table at the time, I decided instead to write a book. Because that’s what a non-reader/non-writer should tackle as her first project: a 400-page novel set during an easily researched era like, oh, World War II. I had, after all, seen Saving Private Ryan at least twice, which certainly added to my qualifications.
“If nothing else,” my husband had assured me, “we can print copies at Kinko’s and give them away to the family.”
Come to think of it, based on my not-so-brilliant first draft, that might have been his gentle way of preparing me for the slew of form rejections he foresaw streaming in from New York. Fortunately—for many people’s sake—that manuscript underwent many a revision. Along the way, I learned about writing, researched obsessively, watched enough of the military channel to actually bore my husband, and yes, I read books (a profound concept, I know).
See, by the time I figured out WWII women’s fiction wasn’t “hot” in the marketplace, it was too late. I’d already finished the book, and I wasn’t about to give up without a fight. Thus, I continued on my mission until the planets aligned, the market shifted (in my favor, thank goodness), and my agent called with a contract offer for my debut, Letters from Home.
My second child is now six and my second novel, Bridge of Scarlet Leaves, released just a few weeks ago. Given the story’s personal connection to my Japanese American heritage and the rare perspective I was able to explore as a result of my research, I truly feel it’s a novel I was meant to write.
So thank you, pregnancy hormones, for sparking this unexpected journey. Had rationale been calling the shots, I would have run screaming the other way—and I would have missed out on an amazing ride.
What spurred your own literary journey? Had you known what you were in for, would you have dared to take the first step? Did pregnancy hormones ever make you do anything out of the ordinary?
For more, visit www.KristinaMcMorris.com